The world is finally moving ahead to coexist with the novel coronavirus. Across the country, businesses have started reopening their doors post the over two months lockdown. But fashion retail will never be the same – neither will the consumer be able to afford to shop like s/he did earlier nor will retailers do business like they used to.
In this exclusive one-on-one, Sorav Arora, Head – Retail & Training, Blackberrys, walks us through the shift in consumer behavior, the brand’s post lockdown marketing strategy as well as its take on PM Modi’s call for ‘Vocal for Local’.
Tell us about your lockdown exit strategy.
Considering the current situation, we have redesigned our business strategies. We have started preparing for our upcoming campaigns and have started working on adding new product categories. We are taking this phase as a great opportunity to chart out a new era – more in terms of our contribution in our consumer’s lives and how we engage with them. Apart from this, we have also re-visited our store and employee policies to render a safe and convenient shopping experience to our customers.
We are also training our team on technology, product and on refining and simplifying the internal processes. We are also guiding them to identify and adapt to disruptive ways of working in the supply chain.
What shift in consumer behavior are you expecting post the lockdown?
Post lockdown the biggest challenge for the businesses would be to change consumer psyche and diminish the fears in their minds pertaining to crowded spaces like shopping malls. Consumers will now re-think and re-prioritize their purchases which will eventually impact brands’ sales and strategies. A higher penchant for online shopping can already be seen amongst the customers, which is expected to rise even further in the coming months.
How are you planning on dealing with unsold inventory?
With the current visibility, the previous season (SS20) ended in a very short span. It is predicted that the market will see early EOSS to free up working capital. We are also focusing on managing working capital – inventory in a feasible way which gives us and our partners leverage to deal with the situation. Fortunately, the season in India remains the same till late October, giving us ample extension to push our collections and liquidate stock. We all feel that the festive season will be normal and we would see some customer sentiment coming back.
Following PM Modi’s ‘Vocal for Local’ clarion call, can we expect a definite shift from global to Indian brands in fashion?
After ‘Make in India’, the PM’s recent announcement – ‘Vocal for Local’ is another big initiative to support national brands. This is an emotional statement that will arouse a new wave of nationalism amongst all. With this, we anticipate an inclination towards the Indian brands along with a positive revival of consumer sentiments. However, the global brands will continue to be on the buyer’s list.
What I feel is that this step might lead to the introduction of various industry initiatives which will be beneficial for all the domestic brands.
How is Blackberrys planning to capitalise on this?
We have been providing innovative products to the discerning Indian men right from our inception in 1991. All our collections and launches including wrinkle free khakis in 1996, Dress Line Trouser in the year 2000, global fabrics in Impeccable fitting in 2006, the whitest white shirt in the country in the year 2014 to 100 percent knitted khakis or India’s Slim Fit are steps in the same direction, which our founders took when they started back in 1991.
Even now, our strategy will revolve around listening to the unsaid need of the consumer and providing them cutting edge, innovative and locally manufactured products for all their needs, as well as being vocal about the same through our in-store and digital campaigns.
What change in communication and marketing strategies are you considering for now?
There has been a significant shift in consumer behavior due to the outbreak of COVID-19, owing to which brands have revised their marketing and communication strategies to adjust to the situation.
Amidst this, there has been an increased inclination towards online shopping and digital content consumption. The consumer now spends substantial time on the internet to consume information about the trends and the products before making a purchase.
Observing this change in consumer behavior, we have also decided to shift our marketing strategy to digital platforms along with revisions in our e-commerce policy. We are also exploring innovative ways to interact with our patrons, to promote our products and win customer confidence through all our digital channels.
We are extensively planning to leverage social media platforms, and OTT apps to reach our audience in different parts of the country. Apart from this, we also plan to introduce our look-books and offers based on personal preferences through digital channels in future.
Post the pandemic, consumers are expected to be even more price conscious – how are you approaching your pricing policy?
At Blackberrys, we do not believe in discounting to boost sales — we believe in delivering products that are rightly priced to offer great value to the customers. Now, we might invest in creating a host of interesting offers and gifting propositions as value additions for our customers. We might also introduce exciting deals on our e-commerce platform.